(This is a story written about 12 years back and not read much. I hope you will like it.)
I have always liked Saturday afternoons with the prospect of a weekend to relax and enjoy with wife and children. I was still at the office waiting for a report from my steno to be sent up that day itself. It was then Raghav, my longtime friend and colleague, entered my room and plunged into the sofa.
“Pacha, I need an hour of your time to discuss some personal matter of utmost importance. Please do not refuse,” he pleaded.”
“Yes, tell me,” I said though I wished to leave office early to take my wife and children to Cream Center for ice cream.
“Please listen carefully as I am in a deep dilemma and need your advice. I do not want to beat around the bush. Shocking as it may be to you, it is real. I have fallen in deep love with Omana who works in the office opposite to ours. The nub of the problem is both of us are married with children from our own marriages,” he was saying when I intervened to say, “My God, how could you be so foolish…”
He stopped me, “Please do not interrupt. I will answer all your questions after I have finished.”
“Proceed,” I said
“It all started with our meeting casually at the canteen at the mezzanine floor or at the restaurants nearby. Though hesitant initially, we were so mesmerized in each other’s company, we gradually threw caution to winds and got intimate and went frequently on one day outings. She had mentioned once that her husband was a sickly person and that she was not happy with him. I must admit frankly since we fell in love, our lives turned brighter and the days were more exciting than the drab ones we led earlier. Not a day including some Sundays passed without our meeting,” he paused to drink cold water.
I have not failed to notice that he dressed well these days and his hair groomed at regular intervals. Earlier he paid scant attention to his personal appearance. But these days there was a spring in his walk that I used to wonder why this transformation. I have also seen his desk with files mounting on it while he kept talking endlessly on mobile or leaving the office early. However, I never spoke to him about it, I could now connect the background behind these changes.
“Pacha, I know you would not approve of this but I am madly in love with Omana Not that I dislike my wife Deepa but I love this girl more and cannot shake her from my mind. She is extremely beautiful and graceful in her deportment. You must see her once to understand my predicament. My guilty conscience pricks me no end when I see my trusting Deepa in the nights. Sadly, for her, I am too far in this relationship to retrace.”
“Does your wife know?” I asked.
He said “No, though she keeps asking me why I work late in office almost daily and also attend on Sundays. Poor thing, she doesn’t know. I am really at my wit’s end how to tell her now that I have decided to separate from her. She loves me so much that she cannot realize that I have lost interest in her. This is eating me day and night. I know all the complications it would cause in both families and I do not want you to dissuade me. Can you advise me only on how Omana and I can live together permanently and openly”?
“To me this action of yours is morally abominable and socially reprehensible. Have you considered about the young children and their future? I do not think your wife is working. You and the object of your infatuation will be a laughing stock in your respective social circles. I cannot preclude legal problems too if one of the aggrieved spouses take up the matter apart from the large financial implications. I need time to think about this and have no readymade solution to offer. Do not do anything rash till I revert. I have promised my children to take them out today. Give me some time to think,” I said without concealing my disappointment.
After fun time at bowling alleys with children and dinner with ice cream at Cream Centre, we returned home. That night, I looked at my wife who was sleeping by my side. She had put on weight, had grown a little old and there were strands of grey hair which she did not seek to hide by colouring. There were black rings below her eyes and new wrinkles that I had not noticed few months before. She appeared nevertheless as beautiful and charming as she was when I met her first. She didn’t mind my going out for a binge of beer with my friends or playing bridge at the club on some Saturday nights. She kept herself busy teaching the kids and looking after the house in ever so many ways. Our love for each other was intact and not a whit reduced. We did have our bouts of fun and tiffs too adding spice to our lives.
On Sundays I would get the breakfast from a nearby restaurant making her stay in the bed for longer. Once in a while I would lend a helping hand in making the lunch. She loved pizza with its varied dressings. I never relished them. Whenever we went out for eating, she would always order things that I relished most like lasagna or Chinese noodles. When I press her to have pizza she would decline telling that she had it the day before at her friend’s place. But there would be surprises of unannounced pizza deliveries in the afternoons for her. She never complained or went to another room for sleeping despite my heavy snoring. She put up with my tantrums when I fail to find my car-keys or socks or mobile.
I was no less considerate to her. Having come from a large family, she never knew to cook just the quantity our small family needed. She did not have the heart to pour the excess down the drain immediately. Instead to salve her conscience, she would store the left over in the large fridge for a couple of days before discarding them. I knew my budget on food can be cut by half but I never made a fuss. She had no interest to acquire fine dresses and was satisfied with simple material. I had to take the help of my cousin to buy fine party dresses and surprise her. It was a case of each one trying to make the other feel comfortable and we found love in abundance between us despite the passing years.
Within ten days after Raghav’s confession, I was returning from an official tour when I saw Raghav in the airport. I requested him to accompany me in my car, have a cup of tea at my house and get dropped later at his place.
When we reached my home, my little daughter of six years came running towards me greeting, “Appa, you are back. I am so happy.” I lifted her bodily and smothered her face with smooches before I let her down. I gave her a box of Sandesh of assorted varieties from my bag.
My son of ten years was standing shyly and I went near him and patted him on his back asking him “How are you, young man? Who took the maximum wickets in today’s ODI?” He snuggled by my side happily.
He replied,” Appa I missed your company while watching cricket. You missed Rohit Sharma at his best.” I gave him a sleek pen set to his great joy.
Then it was the turn of my wife. She was standing at a distance as my friend was present. I dragged her towards me and embraced her tightly saying, “Ignore this chap. He doesn’t know how to lead a joyous life”. Even as she was struggling to get out of my cuddle, I planted a couple of kisses on her forehead to her great embarrassment and my friend’s mirth.
My friend asked me “How long were you away on tour?”
I said just one night. I could see he was stunned by the look on his face and the unbelief that a day’s absence could bring such intense and loving greeting.
Later when we were alone sipping tea, I told him” You asked my advice about your problem. I have one to give if you care to follow. Keep away from Omana for a month with no contact whatsoever and spend the time with Deepa and your children as you saw us here today. Give your wife all the love and the children your affection. Have fun and take them out frequently and smother them with small gifts. Just do this for one month. If you still feel at the end of the month, your passion for Omana is unabated, you do what pleases you. But you owe Deepa this much for her trusting nature and loving you since day one.”
He agreed. As I expected, the togetherness with Deepa and the flush of warmth at home did the magic. It was a month later that he told me that he had told Omana that they break off the relationship as he could not leave his wife and children. I was not surprised that within a month, he sought a transfer to another metro and moved with family.
I was happy he recognized that for love to sustain and grow there must be mutual trust and reciprocity- it is not a one-way street.